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Everyday Zen: Love and Work

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  4,835 ratings  ·  239 reviews
A Zen guide to the problems of daily living, love, relationships, work, fear and suffering. Combining earthly wisdom with spiritual enlightenment, it describes how to live each moment to the full and shows the relevance of Zen to every aspect of life.
Paperback, 214 pages
Published February 22nd 1989 by HarperOne (first published 1989)
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Average rating 4.19  · 
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 ·  4,835 ratings  ·  239 reviews

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Maybe - for Zen is Nothing Special. Skimming thru this little miracle of a book again this morning for the umpteen zillionth time, I read:

"My dog doesn't worry about the meaning of life. She may worry if she doesn't get her breakfast, but she doesn't sit around worrying about whether she will get fulfilled or liberated or enlightened.

As long as she gets some food and a little affection, her life is fine.

But we human beings are not like dogs. We have minds which
Bill Kerwin
Jun 28, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

This a great no-nonsense guide to Zen spirituality, free of Asian exoticism and specialized language, whose only purpose is to make you see. According to Joko Beck, enlightenment is really very simple and yet may take an entire lifetime--or more--to achieve. Enlightenment consists in this: being present in the moment, every moment, for the rest of your life.

For you Christians who have been nourished by the spirituality of Juliana of Norwich, Meister Eckhardt and Brother Laurence of the
Dec 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
I'll be honest here. The reason I got these books on Zen and meditation in the first place was to help me clarify what I was supposed to be doing in karate.

Damn this book is sobering. I don't even know where to start...

This book is a series of lectures that were transcribed by some of Joko's students. I guess the biggest thing that I got out of this book is the idea that yesterday is gone and tomorrow's not here yet so just live out today. Now I know that the point isn't that *tomorrow* isn't
I have read a lot of books on Zen, and I have to say, this is probably one of the clearest, most accessible and relatable books on the subject that I have ever had the pleasure to read. Charlotte Joko Beck is a compassionate, non-nonsense and warm teacher: reading her essays left me feeling comforted and very serene. When I read a book like this one, where so much emphasis is put on simple zazen practice and compassion, I’m not sure where the idea of Zen being harsh and militaristic comes from…

Sep 23, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I learned more about Zen from this book than from any other I've read so far.
Dec 31, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is my favorite Zen/Buddhism book to date. I read it in the middle of a crisis in my life, and it might have saved my marriage, because it spoke straight to me. About how life doesn't "work for you," about how people resist their lives and live in their dreams and fantasies, about how we expect things from other people and our lives and suffer when we are disappointed.

Joko speaks with such a feeling for the problems of real life that she could be any age, at any stage of practice (except
Julie Ehlers
Dec 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I’m still pretty new to the whole Buddhism thing, and for a long time I was intimidated by zen: I held the common, but mistaken, belief that it was highly ascetic and all about denying human emotions and desires. It took some time for me to be able to read a book like Everyday Zen and really understand what it’s saying. In fact, zen does not ask you to deny your emotions. It asks you to feel them, really feel them, without obsessing on them or rationalizing them, reacting to them prematurely or ...more
Nov 08, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: buddhism
One of the challenges of maintaining any kind of spiritual practice is bringing it into your daily routine. This modern world we live in is just full of distractions, some important, others less so- and I've found it's easy to run through an entire day without having spent even five seconds in the right mindset. For Buddhists and Buddhist fellow travelers like me, this tends to manifest most obviously as a neglect of sitting meditation, but it's really part of a whole lifestyle of neglect- ...more
Aug 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone who practices meditation/zen or has a genuine interest and open mind
It has helped me to be more accepting of myself and everything else, just the way it is. It has helped me to see (or reminded me) that I don't have to change myself or my life, to try to get rid of my "problems" (an endless and frustrating goose chase). Actually, I can accept them, and in that acceptance, they lessen. It has given me faith and clarity in my meditation practice, and inspiration and motivation to keep practicing. The first time I tried to read it (4 or 5 years ago), I didn't get ...more
May 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: buddhism
Just an incredible book. I practiced for several years with Charlotte Joko Beck's dharma heir, Elihu Genmyo Smith, at the Prairie Zen Center. So I had heard about her, but was never completely aware of her work. I have to thank GoodReads for leading me to this book. It was ranked highly on the listopia "Buddhist Reading List" so I decided to make it part of my practice. After sitting, I would read a section of the book, much like I did previously with Thich Nhat Hanh's Peace Is Every Step: The ...more
Sean Raf
Sep 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Much like Beck's subsequent book 'Nothing special' there is no other writer (that I've found so far) that has written with anywhere near the sort of clarity, intelligence, profundity, sheer scary ass wisdom about meditation/mindfulness/Zen as this lady did. She cuts through the bullshit with the sharpest hottest knife. There are no riddles, she does not try to be coy or obscure like some writers about something that is already quite hard to grasp already. And I thank her so strongly for giving ...more
Wow. I'm a bit torn about Everyday Zen. I'm not sure it's genius, or just very dreary. It took me soooo long to get through those 200 odd pages... my paperback looks like it's been read several times, but it's just that I've taken it with me so many times (it's traveled many miles with me). At the same time, though, the book contains so many amazing things Joko Beck said that are so real and touching and eye-opening, like...

So as Zen students you have one job: to bring your life out of dreamland
Jan 02, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wisdom
"It was ok" is about all I can say about this book. Some of her points were well-taken, and she does a good job of hitting all the main zen and meditation points, but the delivery just didn't endear the book to me. Part of it might be that it was a transcription of actual talks that the author has given, so it's not really laid out like a usual book. Also, it irked me how her main point came down to "meditate, know yourself, and you will Just Know what to do". It seemed a bit of a cop-out to ...more
Christian Northe
Jun 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: daoyin, favorites
If you ever feel reading about selfeducation and mindfulness you should give Charlotte Beck a chance. This book has accompanied me on my search for understanding on meditation, awareness and orientation in life for well over 15 years by now. I have always been fascinated by Jokos Becks words but had and still have a hard time to accept all the implications and deeper meanings. She is a very, very strict person and yet ever so understanding and caring. By and by I manage to accept what she says ...more
Aug 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Don't let the possibly pop-psyche, self-helpy title fool you! Joko is the real deal. The path is nothing but practice, thorough-going effort to accept this moment as it is, with no reservations. On giving up hope - "We have to give up this idea in our heads that somehow, if we could only figure it out, there's some way to have this perfect life that is just right for us. Life is the way it is. And only when we begin to give up those maneuvers does life begin to be more satisfactory."
Magi Mukanova
Oct 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It was a nice experience reading this book. My friend advised me to read it and at the beginning I didn't really like it. The writer would always warn you how hard is to do Zazen and practice.. so I started to feel kind of negative about it but the author's point was to show you the reality of life. It changed my mind completely. For hopeless dreamer it was hard to get those points but now I am really glad that I read it. Some good advices I took for myself are living in present, living in every ...more
May 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Zen beginners, American Buddhists
Shelves: buddhism
True to its name, this book lays out the basics of Zen thought and practice without glamorizing them, and without wandering off into esoteric/academic sidebars. A very useful book for beginners, and a healthy "reality check" for intermediate practitioners.
Jul 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
I have read a couple of zen books so far and this one was the better of the lot. Sometimes the book said a lot but I didn't take anything away but that's probably me not understanding. There were some good takeaways especially at the end.
Apr 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
A couple dozen talks transcribed, lightly edited, and presented here, each offering an informal, unpretentious exploration of the Dharma generally, and of zazen (sitting meditation) particularly. Each talk had a memorable line or two, but the essays themselves weren't ones I'll be coming back to.

A few passages worth remembering:

"Someone said to me a few days ago, "you know, you never talk about enlightenment. Could you say something about it?" The problem with talking about enlightenment is
May 08, 2009 added it
Shelves: zen
I thought I'd note down (hah) some quotes I liked in this book:
[T:]o substitute one conditioning for another is to miss the point of practice. The point is not that a positive emotion is better than a negative one, but that all thoughts and emotions are impermanent, changing, or (in Buddhist terms) empty

Joko Beck is not the first person I've heard say (in effect) impermanence == emptiness, but I think reading it here is the first time it's stuck.

Another thing I liked in this book is the "New
Aug 04, 2011 rated it did not like it
Absolutely terrible. It can be summed up with, "Don't get mad. Be aware. The present is what is really important." But instead of just saying that, she has to wrap it up in all kinds of devotional nonsense. Horrible stories like one about this jerk who is waiting for the karma train or dharma train or something... so here he is sitting around like a jackass and people start dumping their kids on him and he ends up having a lot of work to do. So he works the rest of his life babysitting and when ...more
Oct 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: spiritual
A very concise and earthy explanation of meditation and Zen Buddhism. As someone who has been studying meditation in a different tradition I found her practical guide to meditating spot on, illuminating things I'd been struggling with for years.

I'm not sure this would be a great introductory book. I think there are basic concepts not explained as exhaustively as someone new to Buddhism and meditation would want. But if you've been around a bit (in any spiritual or contemplative path) I think
Apr 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I keep this book on my bedside, along with the other Beck book. These are, to me, the best books I have on insight meditation. They are practical, no-nonsense pieces taken from her work with students and include questions from students. I find both books grounding and helpful without all of the difficult to penetrate mumbo jumbo (my phrase) that books like this sometimes offer. I highly recommend this book and "Nothing Special." Mine are so worn, it's time for new copies.
Paweł Skorupiński
Feb 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The most pragmatic down-to-earth and hence the best book about so called "spiritual life" that I have ever read. Simple, well-structured and containing some great parallels for life situations each one of us encounters. If you let it, it is going to help you accept things in your life no matter how painful they are sometimes, and commit to those things that you care about most.
Wes Packer
Nov 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is the closest book I have to a "bible". Wonderfully clear, simple advice and instruction. Perfect for Western practitioners, in my opinion.

Stands up extremely well to repeated reading - in fact, I recommend revisiting it at least once a year!

I take it everywhere with me.
Nov 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
My first Zen book, when there were only a couple available on bookstore shelves. What a refreshing view of life.
Aug 24, 2010 rated it really liked it
great book, wish I owned it.
Mar 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I'm certainly much delighted to take this voyage. I'd better start the review with a story which has also been mentioned in the book.

It's the story of a man who found boxes of machine parts. He didn’t have a clue what they were for, but he enjoyed putting things together, and the mystery made it more exciting. So he began his labor. It took him ten years to fit together all the thousands of pieces, some large, some small. When he had finished his work, he had created a shiny, new, and beautiful
Stefany Loren
Apr 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: yoga
I've been practicing yoga for two months now, and when I'm in a new thing I want to know everything about it and books are my main source of learning. While reading things about yoga I came to Buddhism, Zen, mindfulness, etc. So I looked for books on these topics and created a reading list. The first book was Essential Buddhism and I didn't understand at all, it was a hard reading but I read the whole book anyway. The most I like of this book was all the things related to zen. Thus, I came to ...more
Avni Pravin
Aug 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Largely enjoyed Joko's writing style, humor, and Socratic-style interludes in which she records discussions between her and her students. Her metaphors and anecdotes are usually very helpful in illustrating the abstract concepts she is seeking to explain, which can be difficult for Zen writers to communicate to a Western audience. Additionally, the topics chosen are helpful in understanding the commitment necessary to undertake Zen practice as well as dispelling common myths about what one can ...more
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Charlotte Joko Beck was an American Zen teacher. Born in New Jersey, she studied music at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and worked for some time as a pianist and piano teacher. She married and raised a family of four children, then separated from her husband and worked as a teacher, secretary, and assistant in a university department. She began Zen practice in her 40s with Hakuyu Taizan ...more
“We tend to run our whole life trying to avoid all that hurts or displeases us, noticing the objects, people, or situations that we think will give us pain or pleasure, avoiding one and pursuing the other.” 13 likes
“My dog doesn’t worry about the meaning of life.” 12 likes
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